HEIDELBERG, Germany — An Army plan to pay extra cash to combat engineers
working with demolition will not include troops who did much of the explosives
work last year in Iraq.
The $150 monthly incentive, known to troops as "demo pay," was approved Feb.
9, and is effective Nov. 3, 2003, Army officials said.
That was when Lt. Gen. Robert Flowers, the Army's senior engineer, asked the
Army to create an exception to policy to expand the pool of those eligible for
the extra pay.
Normally, ordnance troops tasked with explosives disposal are the only
soldiers allowed the bonus, according to Army spokesman Lt. Col. Frank
Childress. Flowers requested that combat engineers working with explosives in
Afghanistan and Iraq also get the money, Childress said.
"It makes me feel good that the Army is giving the same incentives to
engineers who put themselves in harm's way," said Col. Gregg Martin, commander
of the 130th Engineer Brigade. He oversaw most of the combat engineers during
the first year of the Iraq war.
"These troops are facing the same dangers and hazardous missions as the
During the early stages of the war, troops on the ground in Iraq were faced
with a mountain of enemy ammunition to destroy. Sappers, engineers trained in
explosives, were called upon to help explosive ordnance disposal troops, Martin
"The EOD soldiers were phenomenal," Martin said. "But there was so much
ammunition to dispose of, and not enough soldiers to make it happen."
Since September, much of the large explosives demolition work has been
carried out by civilian contractors.
In early January, Flowers announced his request to Army engineers while in
Baghdad. He also requested the Army approve a sapper tab for their uniform,
identifying engineers who complete elite engineer training during a month-long
course at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. The red and white patch would be worn above
the soldier's unit patch, Flowers said, similar to what Army Rangers and
Special Forces wear.
"It's important that soldiers know that we're looking out for their welfare,"
Flowers told Stars and Stripes during that trip to Iraq. "Anything to improve
But many sappers who are worthy of the monthly bonus won't see an extra dime
because their demolition work predates Flowers' November request.
Fiscal law prohibits paying troops for previous months, Childress said. He
could not say how many troops are eligible.
During the past year, 1st Lt. P.J. Inskeep led the 94th Engineer Detachment,
elite divers who set underwater demolitions.
"These soldiers have a skill which places their lives in a little more danger
than the average soldier," Inskeep said. "It is an additional skill such as
being airborne or a diver."
While Inskeep won't get back pay for using demolitions early on in the war,
he's not upset.
"That would be like my medic asking for back pay when he treated a soldier
who was injured by a [rocket-propelled grenade]," Inskeep said. "We did our
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